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tv   Tavis Smiley  PBS  March 21, 2013 12:00am-12:30am PDT

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tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. our guest is bruce feiler. we are glad you joined us. >> there is a saying that dr. king had that said there is right thing. i try to live my life every day we know that we are only halfway to completely eliminating hunger and we have work to do. walmart committed $2 billion to as we work together, we can
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stamp hunger out. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. tavis: has written -- bruce feiler survived a bout with cancer. it made him investigate what happiness means. he writes about that in his new book. is called "the secrets of happy families." eat smarter, fight smarter. that helps.
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hungry righti am about now. it was good to have you back. how are you feeling? that cancer about scared a lot of your friends. >> and has been five years since my diagnosis. i am walking. start i thought i would thesking your take on runaway success of this and bible series. is it the history channel? the numbers are off the charts because you have written about it now in the past. what is your sense about the way people flocked to this stuff? >> in society we are hearing
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religion is fading out, but there is still this enormous hundred people have for the source material. you may be frustrated with religion, but do not take it out for god. we just saw that with the catholic church, this huge attention around the catholic enclave. more attention than we have seen in a long time. just secos organized religion has gone for a long time -- just because organized religion has gone for a long time goes on the people have lost the desire. you have to adapt. you have to respond to the questions people have. there is a correlation between families. we live in this time of more fluidity in religious identity than we have seen in thousands of years. half of americans have changed faith in the course of their lives. 40% of americans are in
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interfaith marriages. we no longer take religious identity from their parents. what is going on, and they want answers. the answers are no longer just passed on from generation to generation. it is harder for people. if you force your own identity, it can be more personal. admit answering questions and adapting are different things. i get the answer to the question, but there are a lot of people troubled by the fact that religion will adapt itself to suit the needs of the people. those are different things. answering questions is one thing. adapting is another. >> i think what is happening is the home base of religion is shifting.
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the days when you would go to an pew andtion and sit in a fe someone would tell you how to live, that is inconsistent with the way people live their lives. what is the dominant way people live their lives. it is about searching. people still search. they have these questions. somebody is going to tell you the answer from a book and has not been touched for thousands of years? that is not consistent with people trying to find the answers. there is this feeling most of it is in individual lives. they can watch their own tv shows, form their own groups and discuss it, but that is where the action is. tavis: using people are looking
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for affirmation about what it -- do you think people are looking for affirmation about what they think? are do think people understanding the old rules do not apply but new rules have not been written. changing,ife has been but there is something else going on. we are dictated by numbers. how many facebook friends? numbers have taken over, but there are so many questions that have not been answered. that is why religion is not going to go away.
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tavis: tell me about the lessons learned, the take away of your own face journey -- faith journey when your body was stricken with cancer. >> i think what happened to me was i had been living my life, i had been traveling. i had been telling stories, and suddenly, i could not walk. for me at the core, my cancer was in my femur, and suddenly i was the walking dive from the bible who might not be able to walk again. absolutely almost still, and there is a passage in the book of leviticus, which is boring. it is like a giant filibuster, but in the middle is a passage,
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and it says, you should let the land lay fallow every seven years, and every seven sets of seven years the lamb gets extra rest. found great meaning that this was my jubilee. i was still shy of 50. i had to take a year off. what does the bible say? you should be reunited with the ones you love. i had to reconsider what was important to me, and i was surrounded not only with my family but with this group of that quote on the liberty bell comes from that moment. that was really the core idea that they are going to bring these people together and unite them. it took a long time. ,ne thing that happened to me
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one way we are going to talk about have been is -- one way you can experience how grievous -- happiness is to remind yourself how blessed you are. tavis: i am glad you went there. let me ask you a question. how does the sabbatical end up ext?g the genesis for this ta why does it take having to go through and happiness -- unhappiness to get to happiness? >> what is valued is these external things. offor me, i grew out frustration. i had gotten through unhappiness.
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my children had gotten through all those awful years, and we were ready to build a family culture, but we did not know how to do that. you make children part of this connection? we talk about the biological clock. there is another biological clock, and i wanted to know how to do that. it is the same people saying the same things over and over again, and it was very frustrating to me. the old rules do not apply. dad working, everyone having dinner. very few people live that kind of life these days, but there was not a guide book for us to follow. i wanted to go out, get some new ideas. we were not always playing defense. sometimes we were playing offense. tavis: tell me about the new rules.
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>> i said i did not want to cram everything into a list. i hate those. say a number of seems did emerge. did emerge. we adapt all the time. we are so busy all the time. is there a system? the answer is yes. was sweeping through that a lot of families were doing, and the idea is you need to focus on the team. you need to be able to respond and real time quickly. meeting. family we asked three questions. what worked well this week? what did not work well, and what did we agree to work on in the week ahead?
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we have them pick their own rewards and punishment. it sounds crazy. i would get to take my own punishment? >> here is the latest research that kids to set their own goals, and evaluate their own work, they are actually building of their prefrontal cortex. it is giving them the skills they need later in life. it is incredibly valuable. the old days when mom or dad could tell you what to do, i try as a parent. it does not work. outside and take the switch from the tree. if it was too flimsy, i was sent back out. that is the education i had, but i digress. >> we are talking about that.
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everything has slipped. need to bring we it into the process and get that included. say, that is will not what parenting is. when you bring them into the process of that kind of decision making. >> the test is when the parents are not there and the decision the kids are making when they are not there. tore is a movie about how prepare kids for money. warren buffett told a list out and said, these are the hundred richest families. i said, you ought to know how to teach kids about money. he said, these people make all the mistakes. he told me, you should talk to them, bring them in the process.
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80% of kids get to college having never made a decision about money, and he said, you should let your kids make their own decisions. we give them an allowance. research says you should separate them into stores. i said, what if they make a mistake? he said, it is much better to drive into a ditch with the $6 allowance than a $6 million a year inheritance. that is the point. you have got to make your kid -- to let your kids make mistakes. failure turned out to be the best teaching tools of all. one thing i have learned is to be much more open about frailties, up because when you show your kids how you can resolve conflict in life in real time, you are giving them confidence that when they have conflicts they can push through it.
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>> there are three themes. >> there is a chapter about family dinner. if you can have a family dinner, that is fantastic. there is only 10 minutes of productive time. elbow who off the table. you can do it at breakfast. the second, talk a lot, and not just difficult conversations. i have plenty of stuff about that. specifically, what it means to be part of the family. i talked to jim collins, and he says, he coached us through this process of creating a family mission statement. other organizations do it. i thought it was impersonal. when of the best things we did was filed everyone into the bed and said, what does it mean to be part of the family?
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can your kids tell you what values are most important to you? i would like to think they could, but i never really told them. you could do this right now, even as a grown person, so we had this conversation to identify 10 core values. the latest research shows if you want to improve yourself, if you identify your best possible self, you are more likely to achieve. when one of our daughters got in a fight in school, we called her into the office. we had this thing on the wall. my daughter look it up and said, we bring people together, and suddenly we had a way into the conversation. this is my favorite step. researchers gave kids and do you
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know test. do you know where your grandparents were born? where your parents went to high school? the kids who scored highest to knew more about family history had a higher sense of self- confidence and a greater ability to control their lives. researchers said kids know they are part of a longer history. you want to tell them not about just a positive but also the negative and how your relatives overcame them. kids are going to hit hurdles. you want them to know they can make it. tavis: i was not surprised to read that research. it makes so much sense. it is not something in which process the way we should. if you know you are part a of a continuum, it makes perfect
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sense. if you understand that you are better off. >> another thing about religion, i am thinking of the easter story. these are unprecedented things. maybe that is one reason they survive. ask them. we have a lot. if there is a war or recession, we have lost a lot. there is an oscillating family environment. kids to understand they come from an oscillator family and will believe their lives will go through ups and downs, and it will not be so threatening to their identity when they hit those. isseems so simple, but it the hardest to do. design me some card games. i am tired of playing 20 questions. i went to work with the green berets.
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who is better at bringing people together? they have been studying it for 50 years. one family would be in. grandma and grandpa would complain the kids do not have any manners. you can a lot of things do. you can divide people into teams. next year everyone is going to want to do it again. suddenly a kid is showing grandpa's something on their devices. you are making those bonds. the research shows all families have conflicts. you want to limit and control that conflict. spend less time worrying about what you do wrong, more time focusing on what you do right. if you make a positive memories, they will outweigh the negatives. ,avis: i want to ask a question the thesis of which are do not believe myself.
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what does it say to us but we are decision making and family values used to be organic? to be convinced those things matter we have to rely upon research? if i could say, the research shows, i am sure it does. what does it say the families have to be convinced it is the right thing to do. they say research says. >> they have been through a big since you and i were being switched occasionally. three things. one is the definition of the family has changed. you have nuclear families. you have divorced families. you have single families. the nature of family change. #2, women have gone into the
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workplace. there is something else but does not been discussed, which is the dance have come into the hole. -- dads have come into the home. they want to know what works. there is a body of knowledge. study about how to solve problems. fight to find out how to smart. here is what is going on. we have our jobs. we work on those. we have our hobbies. we work on those. we have our families. we do not work on them. we think it is going to be organic, but the truth is there's a lot of knowledge. you can take small steps. havean make your family been. we have that knowledge. we have tooth's put it in families. tavis: i turn my stomach
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saying, eats martyr instead of fight smarter. when you think about family, you do not want to fight smart. >> we would be talking about dry cleaning and who is picking up the milk. she would say, i want to watch the voice. there must be a better way. i went to find out how to fight smarter. it turns out high stress time is 6:00 until 8:00 p.m. at night. no. 2, we were doing this at my office because it is next to my daughter's bedroom. she is crossing her arm. i am in the power position. we changed where we sit. if you are in front of our rigid surface in not hard share, you will be more rigid. if you are on a cushioned share, you will be more
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accommodating. we changed how we said so across each other we will be confrontational. you and i are next to each other. we are more likely to be a collaborative. when my daughters get report cards we sat on a windowsill to say, we are on your side. we are going to push you. you have some things to work on. this is honcho and now they are doing it. governments are doing it. companies are doing it. sports teams are doing it. those what you say to persons watching this now who believe this as a concept or believe it in their own family, the notion their family is cursed, that it has been for generations, the notion it has always been this way in the family? i think there are families of buy into that. this was passed down.
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great grandparents did this. my mother had it. i had it. true intellectually. it is true emotionally. you get my point. why do you say to families who theirhappiness is not in purview? >> almost anybody who has looked at happy this -- happiness has said it is not something you find. it is something you make. there has been a lot of studies, and it shows clearly greatness is not a matter of circumstance. it is a matter of choice. you do not need a grand plan. you do not need to go back to the ancestors and write rules. you need to accumulate small steps. the reality is family narrative's go on a long time. they can be changed. they are changed every day. tavis: his name is bruce feiler
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. his book is no. 5. the book is called "the secrets of happy families." i am always honored to have you on this share. that is our show for tonight. see you next time. good night, and as always, keep the faith. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at join me next time for a conversation with actress angela bassett and fuqua.r antoine that is next time we will see you then. >> there is a saying that dr. king had that said there is always the right time to do the
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right thing. i try to live my life every day by doing the right thing. we know that we are only halfway to completely eliminating hunger and we have work to do. walmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> be more.
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